Muslims demonstrating against NYPD surveillance

Muslims demonstrating against NYPD surveillance from Flickr common creative licensing.

For many years in the aftermath of the 9/11, we have been told that America is not at war with Islam or Muslims, but only with Muslim extremists/radicals/terrorists.

It seems that the New York Police Department has other ideas.

The NYPD has designated American mosques as potential terrorist organizations, which would then grant them the right to conduct surveillance on anyone praying inside.

So to be clear, it is as simple as this:  the NYPD has designed a policy of following an entire community not on the basis of any wrongdoing, but on the basis of their faith affiliation.   It is religious bigotry, plain and simple.  It is also an embarrassment that the police department which is designed to represent and protect all of us Americans has designated one group of Americans as potential terrorists not on the basis of anything they have done, but on the basis of their faith.  This prejudice is unbecoming of America, of our legal code, and of our men and women in the shield.

NYPD logo

NYPD logo via Flickr

The American organization Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has petitioned the Department of Justice to examine why and how the NYPD has designated mosques as terror organizations.

The Muslim Advocates legal organization and Center for Constitutional Rights issued this powerful response:

Today, the Associated Press revealed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has designated entire swaths of Americans as “terrorists” without evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of their faith. This disturbing reminder of the urgent need for police reform in NYC comes on the 50th anniversary of the historic march in Washington DC, where brave and determined Americans convened with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to demand an end to the second-class citizen status of millions of Americans. The revelation that the NYPD has been secretly marking mosques as terrorism organizations, recording sermons in places of worship, and then spying on anyone who enters those mosques is shocking and is yet more evidence that the NYPD is trampling on Americans’ fundamental rights and freedoms. Through its policy, anyone can be labeled a terrorist, spied on, and land in an NYPD file.

The NYPD’s program does active harm to victims of surveillance not only in New York City but beyond.  Our New Jersey clients have been marginalized, stigmatized and intimidated just for participating in daily activities that others take for granted – worshipping at religious services, going to school, attending a meeting of a college student organization, or even dining at a certain restaurant.   And the “public safety benefits” to New Yorkers are a myth.  In more than ten years of conducting this discriminatory program, the NYPD has obtained no leads at all.   NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and the department must stop egregious discriminatory policies that single out individuals simply because of how they pray.

Syed Farhaj Hassan, 35, who is now the first-named plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last week by Muslims Advocates group (on behalf of NJ Muslims) vs. the NYPD is photographed in his home in Helmetta, NJ on June 15, 2012. RNS photo by John Munson/The Star-Ledger

Syed Farhaj Hassan, 35, who is now the first-named plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last week by Muslims Advocates group (on behalf of NJ Muslims) vs. the NYPD is photographed in his home in Helmetta, NJ on June 15, 2012. RNS photo by John Munson/The Star-Ledger

This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

They are right.  This hideous practice not only tramples on the rights of American Muslims, it also makes a mockery of the very rights and freedoms that are at the heart of the American experiment.   If America is great, if America wants to be great, its greatness is to be measured not in the size of the flags we fly, but the extent to which we recognize the innate rights of all of our citizens, starting with the most marginalized amongst us.

That would seem to be a message well worth remembering, especially on this week, the 50th anniversary of the March for Freedom and Jobs led by Dr. King on Washington.   Part of Martin’s message was that people are to be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Judging people based on whether they pray in a temple, church, or mosque is no better than judging them on the basis of their skin color.





  1. Please clarify the following statement seen in a Facebook Forum:
    ” The Mosleim Kuran does not mention the word “sword” not even once but the Hristian Biblos mentions it 700 times”. Is this true? Thank you.

  2. Wasn’t the mosque of the Boston marathon a hotbed of terrorism? Haven’t the mosques of the Boston area been identified as such?

    You all certainly demand your rights in the U.S. What rights to your Islamic countries give to non-Muslims, besides making them dhimmi and restricting their rights? This goes for Turkey, a soi-disant “secular” society.

    • Omid Safi

      hello Leo. No, actually the Boston mosque was not a “hotbed of terrorism.” actually if you study it you’ll see that the mosque community stood up to the older brother. The conversation about Turkey is interesting, but if you are asking about American Muslims, they are responsible for what happens in this country. I am sure you wouldn’t want to be held responsible for everything that your co-religionists do in other countries as well.

  3. Sir, I suggest you do some fact checking. Google Boston Islamic Cultural Center, past and present, it is a breeding ground for terrorists.

    Also, check out the Nashville, Tn. imam Abdullah Mohamed who cursed Christians and Jews and said some very hateful statements.

    As Louis Veuillot stated: “When I am the weaker I ask for my freedom because that is your principle; but when I am the stronger I take away your freedom because that is my principle.

    Those of us in the know, know.

    • Omid Safi

      what a shame when the hot air of some folks does not match the veracity of their claims. Actually, no (again), Tsarnaev was kicked out by his mosque. Get your facts straight:


  4. Sir: It’s verifiable, and you can check major newspaper sources on the Internet. Yes, he was thrown out of the mosque for a variety of reasons. That does not negate the fact that it has been and probably still is a hotbed of terrorism.

    “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” Omar Ahmad

  5. The west shouldnt be fooled by this FILTHY ANIMALS CALLED MUSLIM, they use all sorts of excuses to justify killing innocent people, i am a kenyan and we live in fear everday from this animals, they are blowing up everthing they come in contact with, our schools, restaurants, churches, public transport. This filthy muslims, our neighbours somalians have been slaughtering each other for over 40 years, they run to kenya, we have the biggest refugee camp in the world, we gave them food, shelter, they use our hospitals, schools, and started kidnappings and hijacking our ships, they should be grateful somali is less violent now coz of our army, but u know what MUSLIMS ARE NOT HUMAN BEINGS THEY STARTED KILLING US, SO THE WEST BEWARE DO NOT FILL TOO MUCH PITY ON THESE ANIMALS, LET THEM KILL EACH OTHER IN THE NAME OF THAT DEVIL MOHAMMED

    • Omid Safi

      “Susan”, I am saddened to see the immense amount of hatred that you carry for a large block of God’s children in your heart. I hope and pray that you overcome it. Blessings, omid

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